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Health A-Z

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Harvard Medical School

Treatment

For secondary amyloidosis, the goal is to treat the underlying disease. For example, treating tuberculosis should stop secondary amyloidosis from getting worse. Similarly, controlling the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis with medications could help to stop inflammation-associated amyloidosis.

There is no cure for most cases of primary amyloidosis. Treatment is directed at alleviating symptoms and trying to slow the progression of the disorder. Some medications, such as corticosteroids, chemotherapy agents and colchicine, may decrease inflammation and treat some cases of amyloidosis, but they are not very effective if the disease is severe or highly advanced. A bone marrow transplant may lead to complete recovery in some patients with primary amyloidosis, especially for those whose amyloidosis accompanies a form of bone marrow cancer called multiple myeloma. However, this procedure is not always successful. A bone marrow transplant is a dangerous procedure in which a patient's own bone marrow, which is often the source of amyloid protein, is destroyed and replaced with a donor's marrow. Certain forms of amyloidosis may respond to liver, heart and/or kidney transplant. New treatments are being investigated.

If patients develop severe complications from amyloidosis, those conditions will need to be treated. For example, dialysis may be necessary if kidney failure develops, and cardiac medications may improve heart function and reduce retained fluid if cardiac disease becomes a problem.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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